Although illegal migration to Europe dropped significantly in 2018, a shift in Mediterranean migration routes made Spain the main point of entry for those migrants reaching the European Union in 2018, registering 56,844 “irregular arrivals”, according to the European border control agency Frontex.
Arrivals to Spain jumped 157 percent to set a record during 2018, according to Frontex, and the agency said the number of illegal arrivals of migrants to Spain could well set another record in 2019.
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The shift in the preferred migration route to Spain via the Eastern Mediterranean came as the overall number of migrants crossing from North Africa and the Middle East into Europe fell to 150,514 last year, the lowest level registered in five years. The overall decrease resulted from an 80 percent drop in the number of migrants crossing from Tunisia to Italy, seen as a direct result of Italian government antagonism to the arrival of migrants and refugees.
The expected increase in arrivals to Spain cited by Frontex appears to be confirmed by statistics for the first six weeks of 2019 compiled by the Spain-based Europa Press news agency. Citing figures from government agencies and non-governmental organizations, Europa Press reported that the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Spain as of 15th February had already reached nearly 5,000, representing a 173 percent increase over the same period last year.
► Read English-language FRONTEX 2019 Risk Analysis summary …
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